Late for our anniversary – but well worth it

We were only a little late doing something for our anniversary, although I’m very late at blogging it.  But that’s OK; we actually did something nice this year.

At a friend’s blogged reccomendation, we tried the Craigie St. Bistrot for a nice dinner out – with the babysitter home with Roxanne!  At the risk of losing the price of a Happy Meal, I will tell the truth: it was wonderful.

The restaurant is almost tiny, hidden away in the basement of an apartment building.  As their website says, their kitchen is probably smaller than yours.  It’s intimate and very subtly but nicely decorated with touches of Frech whimsy and prints all around.  The waitstaff was amazing – not the formality, but certainly all the pleasantness and services you’d expect at any of the absolutely top places in town. I was wondering how the hierarchy of waitstaff went: what other restaurants do you have to work at first, and then where else, before you can work in a place like this.

Since it was our anniversary we got champagne cocktails from the chef to start with – a nice way to start, reminicent of Casablanca. Although the whole menu was tempting, we both went for the 3 course prix fixe, Amy for the veggie version.  Let’s see if I can remember all the wonderful things we had:

Amy had a warm green veggie soup (I forget what) – with an amazingly creamy green and fresh taste.  I had the tempura soft shell crab, perfectly done with some nice sauce and a bit of green stuff as a counter point (oh boy, I’m tired, can’t even remember what it was).

For dinner Amy had a sort of pasta primavera, so to speak: fresh veggies, with ricotta gnocci.  I had the softest, richest pork chop I’ve ever had.  I don’t know how they cooked it to such perfection: it’s not just getting it barely hot enough to cook it without drying; there was something much more – I didn’t know chops could be that – lucious.  I also went for the Vouvray for a glass of white with dinner – the waitress was just right in confirming the choice.  As IO and LR confirmed, while the wine list is only moderately sized (all French, by the way), it’s cheap for the caliber of food you get.

We got the desserts – which each came with a paired dessert wine.  They split the glasses, since we were splitting both desserts.  First a cheese plate – it was me, of course.  Goat, sheep, cow: each interesting and complex on many layers; plus good french bread, dates and sweet fruit, and a touch of bitter greens to cleanse in between.  Then a fruit crumble with a pistachio crumble topping.  Both wines were wonderful – very complex and appropriately sweet without being cloying, even a touch of dryness in one.  Heck, I’m a very dry fan, and I’d be happy drinking one of these with an appropriate dinner myself.
The funniest thing about the staff was the bathrooms.  It’s tiny: there is a front door, and the only other exit is a long twisting hallway that goes to both the kitchen and bathrooms.  Every time a patron goes to ‘go’, the staff quietly says “diner coming thru” and they all carefully get out of your way.

Menus change daily; they are printed shortly before the restaurant opens, after they’ve done their day’s shopping.  Deal that can’t be beat: Wed & Sun, at 9pm, they offer a Chef’s Whim tasting menu for only 39.95!  You’ll never know what it will be, but I can’t wait to try it.